A recent analysis from non-profit FAIR Health found that hospitalised COVID patients weren’t the only ones at risk of long-COVID. Even mild and asymptomatic cases could develop the condition.
Even asymptomatic and mild COVID cases risk developing long-COVID
Researchers at FAIR Health analysed the insurance claims of 1.96 million Americans, the largest population ever to be studied for COVID between February 2020 to February 2021.
Results showed that 19% of asymptomatic coronavirus sufferers developed long-COVID a month or more after their initial diagnosis. The number then crept up to 27.5% when considering mild COVID sufferers. Those hospitalised with the virus had the highest long-COVID rate, with 50% of patients developing the condition.
The chances of dying 30 days or more after COVID diagnosis were also 46 times higher for COVID patients that had been hospitalised than those with asymptomatic or mild symptoms.
The study sheds light on the perils of long-COVID
Long-COVID is a term used to describe coronavirus symptoms that persist for weeks or even months after infection and can even persist once the victim tests negative for the virus. The study found that across all age groups, the most persistent symptoms of long-COVIDincluded pain, shortness of breath, high cholesterol, fatigue, and high blood pressure.
Causes of long-COVID are yet to be uncovered, with the study stating that ‘theories include persistent immune activation after the acute phase; initial damage from the virus, such as damage to nerve pathways, that is slow to heal; and persistent presence of low-level virus.’
Long-COVID was most common in females; however, some symptoms such as heart inflammation were more common in men. Common long-COVID symptoms also varied between age groups.
Physical symptoms oflong-COVID or post-COVID syndrome were also analysed, with anxiety, depression, adjustment disorders and tic disorders all being the most frequently developed 30 days post-diagnosis.
FAIR Health's president Robin Gelburd commented on the study, explaining that the analysis will be hugely beneficial for developing legislature around the condition:
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, long-haul COVID persists as a public health issue affecting many Americans. The findings in our new study shed significant light on this emerging issue for all individuals who have long-haul COVID, as well as for policymakers, providers, payers and researchers.
Unfortunately, FAIR Health’s study did not come without its limitations. The analysis did not include a control group of non-coronavirus sufferers, meaning the extent to which the virus was responsible for the long-COVID symptoms can’t be determined.